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Good management of egg producing hens

The modern egg producing strains of chickens usually have fewer poor producing hens if you manage the birds properly as pullets. In commercial egg laying operations the birds are not usually culled after being placed in the laying house unless the birds become diseased or crippled. In the small laying flock the hens should be culled about eight to ten weeks after being placed in the laying house. This allows the birds plenty of time to adjust to their new surroundings and reach peak production. It also provides extra time for the development of the slower maturing pullets. Often you can detect the non-laying or poor producing birds by observing the condition of the comb and head characteristics. Body characteristics will indicate if the bird is capable of being a good layer.

Characteristics Indicating Ability to Lay

Character
Layer
Non-Layer
Comb and Wattles Large, bright red, glossy Small, dull, shriveled
Head Neat, refined Beefy, weak
Eye Bright, prominent Dull, sunken
Eye ring Bleached Yellow tinted
Beak Bleached Yellow
Abdomen Deep, soft, pliable Shallow, tough, tight
Pubic bones Flexible, wide apart Stiff, close together
Vent Large, moist, bleached Small, dry, puckered, yellow

Culling at night is recommended, since the birds are less likely to be frightened and reduce egg production. A flashlight with the lens covered with blue cellophane will make it easier to detect poor layers without disturbing the flock. Handle the birds as little as possible so that production will not be greatly reduced. Delay culling if a significant portion of the flock is suffering or recovering from a minor disease or molt. Culling a diseased or molting flock often removes some of the better laying birds.

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